The sound of this apartment’s calling bell is a little irritating. At least, Vidyut thinks so. The sound of the bell is neither soothing nor musical, as now a day we normally hear. This bell has a weird sound of an old mechanical one, noisy & annoying. It was Isha’s choice. Her choices are always like this unique. It is screaming. Vidyut is watching news on the TV by putting his body in a half lying state. Vidyut looks at the wall clock. It is half past ten. He is a little surprised. No one is supposed to come today, and not at least this time. He walks towards the main door in lazy steps. Other side of the peephole is completely dark, nothing is visible. So many times, Vidyut complained to the caretaker of this housing society for the celling light. This light has a peculiar nature. It provides light, as per its wishes. Vidyut again tries to see through the peephole. This time fortunately light is on. It is Isha. He is astonished by seeing Isha over there. A stiffness naturally appeared in his face. He knows, rest of the night will not be pleasant in her presence. He opens the door and says,
“Hi, you told me you have a night duty and you will return at morning eight o’clock only. Hope all is okay?”
Isha lifts her eyes and gives a gentle look to him, then says,
“Yes. Nothing is wrong. I don’t feel to work tonight. I want to stay tonight with you.”
“Are you okay, Isha? I mean, your health is okay or not? Till this morning we fought like a hell on this and you suddenly switch, unbelievable.” Vidyut comments sarcastically.
Isha smiles and drops her bag in couch. She takes the sea green coloured bath robe from the wardrobe and says,
“Vidyut, I am feeling hungry. Would you mind if I ask you to cook your special Maggie for me? After all, as a duo this our last night. I take a bath and back in half an hour.”
This apartment is not a big one, hardly a thousand square foot. It comprises two bedrooms, one hall, an open kitchen and a small yet magnificent balcony. But this has been designed & decorated brilliantly. The good taste of this couple is visible in every corner of this apartment. The washroom also not out of this. Bluish green tiles across the wall and a hidden blue light make this room very comforting. Isha closes the door of shower enclosure and opens the shower. She cries silently.
She can’t believe still now that how their relationship changes in past two months. Water falls like a rain all over her body.
That was a stormy evening of July end. Entire day Gurgaon city experienced a heavy rainfall. Lots of places were waterlogged. Traffic on the road was also in reducing trend. Few months back Isha joined as a Doctor of Medicine in this prestigious hospital of Gurgaon. She was on the duty for emergency department. Suddenly an accident case came. A person had burned his hand. It was not a critical one, but patient was panic. That patient was Vidyut. Isha was doing the dressing for him and he was looking at her miserably. Suddenly he said,
“Doctor, by any chance, do you need to amputate my hand for this?”
Isha somehow controlled her laughter and said seriously,
“See, it depends on how your body responses to these medicines. But most of the cases we go for amputation only.”
The face of Vidyut was almost bloodless. He looked at his right hand in such a way that he already started missing his hand. All of a sudden he said,
“I have listened to my mom. Ignoring her words is the biggest mistakes of mine.”
“Yes, I completely agree with you. Now it’s too late for these.”
“You know my Mom always telling me, get married but I never listen. Now I have lost my hand to make food by myself.”
Isha completed the dressing and said,
“Well, you had a tiny burn injury. Nothing to worry. I was nothing but making fun of yours. Your hand is absolutely fine, okay. You can go home now.”
Vidyut looked at her with surprise, & eventually that turned into an enormous gratitude. He unexpectedly held the hand of Isha and said,
“Are you telling the truth, Doctor? My hand is okay and no amputation at all?”
“Yes. Hundred percent.”
“I am so grateful to you. You saved my life.”
Isha thought once to correct him that there was no scope of saving his life because it was already safe and secured. But looking at Vidyut’s joyfully innocent face, she restricted herself.
Next day Isha was addressing outdoor patients. She shouted it,
“Patient number thirty-six.”
Patient came and sat opposite to her. Her eyes were buried in the adjacent computer screen. She said, without looking at the patient.
“Please tell me what the problem is?”
The answer came spontaneously
“Nothing such. Simply a routine check-up.”
Isha twisted, and it was Vidyut. She said happily,
“Oh you. What has happened again, burnt or cut your finger during cooking?”
“No, now I am careful in these matters. And take the safest way in it, arranged home delivery.” He said,
Isha laughed and then said,
“That’s great. Now tell me, what can I do for you?”
“No nothing, just check my health if it is ok or not.”
Isha checked his vitals and found nothing unusual.
In an interval of three four days, Vidyut came and meeting Isha as a patient. One day, Isha asked,
“I already told; you don’t have any medical problem, then why are you coming back repeatedly.”
“But Doctor, whenever I meet you, I feel better but after a day I feel down again.” Vidyut said woefully.
“Tell me what help you actually want from me. You don’t need any medical help, that much I am sure.”
“Well, can we discuss the same over a cup of coffee in some other place, unless you are very much comfortable with the smell of these sanitising agents? By the way, I am Vidyut.”
“How do you think, I will accept your request?” Isha said in a serious face.
“No madam, I don’t. Because thinking does not give courage to express our emotions, believe does.”
Isha took few moments pause and then said,
“Well, I accept your request but still now you have not told me what help you need from my side.”
“Actually, I was thinking about my mom’s advice, and you are the only person who can help me with that. So, I need your help anxiously in it.” Vidyut again continued with a smiling face.
“This is my mobile number. Please drop me a message where & when we can meet. But a call will be more welcoming.”
“This is totally absurd. How can they do it?” After putting the TV off, Vidyut says the same in disgust. Isha returns from the washroom after taking the bath. Tiny water droplets are shining like gems on her wet shoulder. Isha doesn’t understand the context of Vidyut’s statement. She asks him,
“What happened? Why are you so excited?”
“They are again extending this lockdown. They are not considering one factor that people will die in starvation if it continues like this.” Vidyut says it agitatedly.
A caring look appears in Isha’s eyes. His frustration is not unjustified. Last four months their life is going through a very tough time. A global pandemic could even destroy their balance of life that they never dreamed of. Their marriage is going to be end tonight. With so many hopes, they have stated their married life rarely two years back. Now it’s all ends here.
This pandemic gave us one lesson that survival is not so easy as we assume.
During this crisis time, Isha failed to stand behind him even if she wanted to. Medical service became extreme emergency services, and they cancelled all leaves. As a doctor, she was on duty all the time. This incident had adversely affected on Vidyut’s stressed mind. He started believing that Isha chooses her duty over him. She didn’t value his pain & concern. Someone stranger’s wellbeing was more important to her than to him.
This was the first crack appeared in their relationship. With time, that difference became bigger and bigger. One day they both gave up on this relationship and stayed apart.
Isha changes into a navy-blue colour pyjama & yellow tee shirt. She is looking bright in that dress. From far off, it looks like she is glowing. Vidyut already started cooking in the kitchen. Isha goes straight into the kitchen and sits on the slab near Vidyut. He is cooking with a very serious face. Like it is another task in hand which he needs to complete. A pinch of pain barely appeared on Isha’s face momentarily. Then she returns to normal. She holds his hand and says,
“Do you know what I love the most about your cooking?”
Vidyut doesn’t respond to her query. Isha continues,
“Because your love and compassion always reflect whenever you made any food for me. If you don’t feel the same now, then don’t cook. I will manage something.”
Vidyut looks at her now. Few drops of water are about to come out from her eyes. Isha still can’t accept that this is the same Vidyut who loves her like hell. Vidyut tries to do things much quicker than normal, forcefully. A conflict of thoughts is visible from his body language. He puts his hand over her hand and says,
“Wait, I am making it like before.”
These few words make Isha’s eyes brighten. A smile is again back on her face.
After finishing it, Vidyut serves the food in two bowls and they both take a seat on the balcony. It is a semi darkness over there. They eat silently. Isha starts conversation to break the silence.
“I must admit you are the best Maggie maker of the world. This is so tasty.”
Isha tries hard to observe his expressions even in that semi darkness. Then she exhales a long breath and says,
“Vidyut we have only few hours left from now, why we don’t speak our heat once for all,”
Vidyut gives a dull reply.
“How that matters now. We are done with all our discussions.”
“Yes, maybe you are right. There will be no benefit at all. But at least we will be relieved by sharing our thoughts openly.”
“I don’t think so, Isha. It will make things more bitter for us. At least last few hours we should not spoil by discussing the topic, which makes both of us uncomfortable.”
Isha listens to him sensibly and then says,
“Okay, if you think that way, then let’s not. Can we talk about something else?”
Vidyut maintains the silence. She continues,
“Well, I have some questions from beginning at least you should answer those questions before breaking our partnering.”
Vidyut again replies reluctantly.
She puts her legs in a crisscross position and asks,
“My first question is, what made you attracted towards me three years back?”
A genuine smile slowly spread over his face. First time since Isha has come. That smile comforts her. Vidyut slowly says,
“Honestly, I don’t know what happened that night. When the first time I saw you, I had a unique feeling inside. It looked like I know you for long. You are very much known to me. I have a connection with you, life after life. Initially, I didn’t give attention to that feeling. Once I came back from the hospital that feeing started growing. I could not resist myself to see you again & again.”
Isha listens to him attentively. Even it is almost midnight, but sky is not completely dark. One slice of the crimson moon is hanging in the lower sky and trying to illuminate these two lost souls from far. Vidyut continues,
“It was a strange feeling. I never experienced love, so was not sure that this was love or not. I was only having one thing in mind and that’s you. That’s all,”
Vidyut takes a pause for some time and then again says,
“I also have a question for you. Give me an honest answer for that.”
“Yes, please.” Isha blurts.
“Do I have any value in your life at all or just because I approached you first, I proposed you for marriage, I came into this relationship, so I am always taken for granted to you. That’s why you always give preference to your profession over me.”
Isha holds her spontaneous flow of emotions and keeps her clam. Then says,
“I am glad that you ask this question. I know you will abandon me forever, but please do that based on fact, don’t want you to leave me for a reason which is not true.”
“Well, then let me know what the real reason for that is.”
She ignores his sarcastic tone. Isha says,
“Before I answer your question, let me ask you one question. Do you think if I could not respond to your all proposals one after one, then will our relationship come so far? Yes, you take the first move, I completely agree with it. You are an extrovert person; you can express things easily. I can’t. I have a different nature.
You know what the biggest fallacy of today’s world is, we love people of our opposite nature but expect them to behave alike. A perfect relationship does not work that way.
Basically, two people of the opposite nature complete each other. They become the strength of each other and eliminate weakness.”
Isha is gripping the water bottle tightly and breathing rapidly. These are the emotions trying to come out since the time Vidyut accused her: she has a heart of stone & she didn’t love Vidyut at all. She was trying to tell him from that day; she loves him very much. But she could not.
Isha again continues,
“I am a doctor, Vidyut. This is not an ordinary profession. You will not find a job description in any other occupation that requires fighting spirit against death every day. I must observe a procession of dead bodies each day. This is not a normal occupational hazard.”
“But the story does not end here. I have to play a role of a cheerful wife or an affectionate mother or a loving daughter once I come back from the hospital. Don’t you think I have a mind too? I don’t feel pain. You know the problem is somewhere else; I didn’t choose this profession to make money. I really want to serve all these people, and you know that. Once, you used to appreciate this thought process. But now it’s become the reason for our separation.”
“You never consider that so many people’s life is depending on me. Each day so many new infected patients are coming for treatment. We are only few doctors here. If I stop going, can’t you imagine how many lives we could lose.”
Suddenly Vidyut says,
“But does it mean you simply overlook my pain, my emotion? Because you are a doctor, so I can’t expect you to be by my side when I required the most.”
“No. Not at all. Yes, you definitely can. But you also need to understand if I evaluate my responsibility towards them and you, they win. I am sure one day you understand that.”
Vidyut says in an irritating tone,
“What I should understand that I am always second priority to you.”
Isha looks at the floor for sometimes and then says in a little low voice,
“Well, leave this priority part here. You told me many times you don’t like this sales job, this corporate culture. You had a dream of being an army person. Protecting your mother land was your dream job. Now imagine that there is an ongoing war you need to be in action. Millions of innocent lives are depending on you. Same time if I ask you to stay at home because I am quite feeling low. What should be your call? Need not to answer me. Answer yourself what you actually would do in that situation.”
Vidyut answers nothing. He can’t accept the rejection of Isha but same time his mind can’t deny the logic of her too. He crackles his fingers and then rubbing his palm absentmindedly. The dilemma of his mind is coming out.
Vidyut tries to avoid further discussion on this topic, so he asks another question.
“I always wonder, being a Doctor why do you believe in god so much. Your devotion to Devi Durga is amazing. For a long-time I keep this question in my mind. Today I put it on the table.”
A gracefully divine smile appears on Isha’s face. Vidyut for few moments forgets everything and gets mesmerised by that smile.
“To be honest, being a doctor makes me more a believer of even more. More I know, more I believe the almighty. It’s just a myth that if you study science, you need to disown the existence of god.”
“Why do you think so?”
“See, if I break down the entire understanding then it will be a journey from what to why through how. Our knowledge only can explain that what part. Why part is still too far? Even how part is also not known to us. With this incomplete knowledge how can I show the audacity to deny something which is beyond of my knowledge but within the reach of my wisdom.”
“Sorry, but I don’t understand what you mean by those lines.”
“Well, let me put it in this way. We all known that our body comprises billions of tiny cells. Each cell has an individual life. We also know what the components in which ratio are makes a cell. So, this part. But after knowing all this, we could not create life in a cell. We don’t know how life is actually created. Even why this one cell exists in this universe, we are not in a state to ask that question even. Every day, I experienced that after my best of effort, few people can’t make it. But sometimes where the logic of medical science says that survival chances are almost zero. People recover from there and survive.”
“There is a something beyond of all our understanding. This is something like being a fish in an aquarium and believe this is the ocean which people talk about.”
Vidyut hides his feelings from Isha that he is respecting her within his inside. He tries to pull the legs off her. He says,
“So, if that power is there, and you believe is so much on it. Then Why it is not coming to help you. Why, it is not saving your marriage.”
“Vidyut, God never appeared to save her each true devotee. She shows the way to you. She sends people to your life to help you. But yes, in some rare cases she appeared herself to save them if they have that level of faith and earned it by their work.”
Vidyut laughs loudly and then says,
“Then my chance is zero for many lives. I am so sinful and such an Atheist.”
Isha smiles mischievously, and she replies,
“You never know, it can be reversed too.”
The digital clock of Vidyut’s mobile phone displays it is three paste twenty of night. He takes a long yawn and looks at Isha.
She is still glowing and looks gorgeous. He thinks, from where she brings so much energy to herself. Even on such a tough day, how she is so calm.
Isha asks with a smile.
“May I ask you a question now?”
“Why that day suddenly you say we should get separated, and you are done with this relationship?”
Vidyut does not respond to that question. She is referring to one and half month old incident. That day, Vidyut was highly stressed. Last couple of weeks rumours were floating in the air within the organisation that management will layoff a major part of employees. That day morning in all India online meeting, chairperson announced that yes, the rumours were true. They would cut human resources by twenty-five percent. I would ask people who were not performing up to mark probably this the time. Nobody knew what the benchmark was of so called up to the mark of management. Management would announce the list in coming three days, department by department.
Entire employee fraternity was in a panic state. Vidyut was also not an exception. He was about to go mad by thinking about the consequences if his name would in that list. So many borrowing, home loan, car loan, personal loan, etc. Even Isha is working so survival might not be the prime issue but lifestyle, certainly. But above all these, it would hurt his male ego the most. He could not accept that he would be jobless and surviving on her income.
Isha was getting ready for her duty. Isha was giving the last moment touch. She heard Vidyut was shouting her name. She replied from there,
There was no reply from Vidyut. Isha could not understand what happen, so slowly reached to him and asks again,
“What happen Vidyut? Are you looking for me?”
Vidyut looked at Isha indifferently and then said,
“Yes. Please stay at home today. I don’t want to be alone.”
Isha was a little surprised by Vidyut’s request. Yet, she said,
“What happen? Please tell me.”
Vidyut suddenly reacted in temper and said,
“Why? I am your husband, and can’t you just take a day off by my words only.”
“Why are you reacting in such a way?” Isha said calmly.
“Oh, you mean I am reacting. I am only asking you to stay back at home. That’s all.”
Isha again said calmly.
“If you don’t tell me what the reason is, how could I know why you are asking the same?”
“Just to stay at home for a day you need a reason, Isha? You can’t stay because of me, only. Am I not enough reason for that.”
“Vidyut, please understand, so many lives are depending on me. I can’t take leave casually. Above all, in the current situation, I must attend to my duty. Please don’t misunderstand me.”
“Your priority is only your job, Isha. Nothing else. Then why you came to this relationship when you don’t value it.”
“Form where you inferred this stupid thing, Vidyut. I value all these but same time my duty also important. This is not a normal nine-to-five duty work. Why don’t you try to understand?”
“Isha, I have had enough of this. I order you to stay back at home, you will do it. That’s all.”
“If that so, Vidyut, then I am afraid I may not obey your order.” Isha said it in a very firm and indifferent voice.
“Well, then I think we should not be in this relationship anymore. This marriage, our relationship, me, nothing has any importance to you. Then we should not pretend to be a perfect relationship. We should at least honest with each other and chose our own way.”
“Don’t drag this minor issue to that extend Vidyut, my request to you.”
Uncontrollable stress and anxiety didn’t keep Vidyut in control. He didn’t know where he was heading.
His ego became so strong that he could not accept that how Isha could refuse to honour his request. That made her anger so aggressive that he could do anything to stop Isha today.
He screamed at Isha,
“If you leave this house today, then this will be the end of our relationship. Rest is your choice.”
Isha could say nothing. Only one thought was coming to her mind. Last so many years, their entire love and affection just blown away because of this one unimportant incident. She could not believe what she heard. She took her bag and left the house.
From that day onwards, they just stopped interacting with each other. Most of the time Isha stayed in hospital and Vidyut was busy with his job.
In these forty-five days, they both thought to discuss this and resolve this matter. But Isha couldn’t overcome her emotional shock and Vidyut his male chauvinist ego.
For sometimes Isha is observing him. Vidyut is in deep thought. Isha smiles in her mind and then says,
“Night is almost over, Vidyut. Dawn is very close. I need a coffee now. Do you want one?”
Vidyut returns from his thoughts and he holds the hand of Isha and says,
“Yes. I need one too. Please come fast, I need to say something to you.”
Isha smiles and moves to kitchen.
Vidyut is looking at open sky. Today sky is very clear, which is unusual at this time of year. Vidyut searches for Polaris. It is emitting bright light in north-east corner of sky. A thought eats his mind like a termite. Does he take this decision too early, even he should probably not take this decision at all? His mind is clear now. He could not allow to break this relationship. He loves her from the core of his heart. A momentarily dark cloud of self- ego was covering the Polaris of his mind, but now it is crystal clear. He will not end this relationship at any cost. Happiness always brings peace in our mind, Vidyut also not exceptional.
He is just waiting for Isha to come back from the kitchen. He will declare her that there will be no separation between them. The imagination of Isha’s expression, of hearing this, brings a childish smile on Vidyut’s face. He immerses in his thoughts so deep that when he falls asleep; he can’t notice.
It is almost eight o’clock. Sun already up in full swing. Sunlight is approaching slowly towards sleeping Vidyut’s chin. A vibration in his Bermuda’s left pocket makes him awake. Vidyut opens his eyes and takes some time to realise where he is. Then he remembers all the discussion of last night and his decision. He brings the mobile phone out of his pocket. It is Isha. He is a little confused. He thinks in his mind. Why Isha is calling him in mobile. She should have been come here and talk. Then suddenly a thought appears in his mind. Where is she? She supposed to be here only. He looks at the empty deck chair beside him. She left for a long to make the coffee. He looks around for coffee mugs, but only two empty plates with left over Maggie are lying on the floor. Did she leave for her duty to the hospital in early morning and she didn’t bother him as he was in deep sleep?
All those thoughts are passing through his head in few seconds. He picks up the phone and says,
“I am sorry. I probably make you awake.”
“Yes. But that is ok. Any way before you say anything, I want to announce something.”
“And what is that?”
“Isha, I am really sorry for my behaviour. I would take a very wrong decision. We will not file a petition for divorce. There will be no separation between us. We will be together like before for ever. We should have been talk to each other much before.”
His emotions are potent with each of the word he is just mentioned.
“Are you really serious about it?” even Isha pretends to be normal, but an overwhelmed joy is clearly visible in her voice.
“Yes, of course. This is the final decision of mine. I love you so much.”
“Vidyut you don’t know how much I love you.”
“I know, darling. Now tell me for what you have called me.”
“Well, now it is irrelevant.”
“I was calling you to say that my night duty is extended and probably I could not make it by ten o’clock at court for petition.”
Vidyut jumps on feet as if a high voltage current passes through him. He says in a stuttering voice,
“Where were you last night?”
“Why, you know I had a night duty. Entire night I was in hospital only. There was so much rush of patient that I even need to work after my duty hours.”
There is a silence for some time. Vidyut says nothing. Isha then asks,
“Are you there, Vidyut? Is everything fine there?”
“Yes. All is okay here. When are you coming home?”
“Maximum another four hours I will be with you. I miss you. See you soon, bye.” Isha hangs the phone by saying this.
After putting down his mobile phone, he runs to the intercom. He calls the main gate security and asks,
“Can you check and confirm who came to my flat last night after ten o’clock.”
“Sir, please hold the line, I am checking the same.”
After few very anxious full minutes, the security person says,
“No sir, no one came.”
“Is Isha madam came after ten o’clock?”
“No sir, not a single person came.”
Vidyut disconnects the connection.
The shock of the incident makes Vidyut stand still. He is sitting like a stone statue. It seems Isha is saying truth then who was with him last night? Who is she? Why she came?
His logical mind can’t find any suitable explanation which can comfort his mind. It makes him irritated about himself. He feels suffocated inside. Somehow Vidyut convince himself that this is nothing but his own dream. Inside his mind he wants to fix this and trying to save this relationship but not able to express. As a result, these entire things come up in his dream in such a way.
The sound of calling bell makes Vidyut conscious. It is Isha. Vidyut opens the door. Isha is looking at the floor. Then she says,
“Look Vidyut, this is so beautiful.” She pointed her fingers to the floor.
Vidyut follows her finger and observes.
There is a rangoli starting from their entrance, made of white churned rice. The design of rangoli is a lady’s bare footstep. Those footsteps are moving away from their main door. Vidyut is very much sure these were not there last night.